Bill Seeks To Curb HIV In Prisons
Posted by pozlife on May 23, 2007
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
Posted: May 22, 2007 – 7:00 pm ET
(Washington) Federal lawmakers have been told that a quarter of the people living with HIV at some point in their lives enter the prison system and without a federally mandated education program the disease is spreading among inmates – many of whom will end up back out on the streets.
The statistics were presented at a subcommittee hearing on the Stop AIDS in Prison Act, a bill introduced in April by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Cal.) that would require HIV/AIDS awareness education for all inmates and provides comprehensive treatment for those inmates who test positive.
“In the US, one in four people with HIV pass through a jail or prison each year…And this might come to many as a surprise but more than 90% of people in prison or jail return to their communities in a short period of time, bringing back to their communities the effects of poor HIV medical treatment and prevention efforts inside [prison],” said Vincent Jones, executive director of the Center for Health Justice, testifying before the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security.
The West Hollywood-based Center for Health Justice is the nation’s only non-profit organization solely focused on HIV prevention and treatment education for incarcerated populations.
The organization’s mission, said Jones, is to empower people affected by HIV and incarceration to make healthier choices and to advocate for the elimination of disparities between prisoner health and public health.
Jones testified that for inmates “in-custody programs often mark their first and only opportunity for HIV prevention and treatment education and in the best teachable moment: when they are sober, contemplative, and in single sex environments.
The Stop AIDS in Prison Act, he said, recognizes this fact and takes advantage of the public health opportunity incarceration presents.
“[It] encourages routine HIV testing in a manner that mirrors HIV testing in the general public, approaches HIV treatment holistically, and updates the formulary rules in a manner that will enhance confidentially and help extend the lives of Americans living with HIV,” said Jones.
Source: Gay News From 365Gay.com